Graphic: The Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement

Donald Galloway

Audio transcript: On attitudes in the blind community toward the Center for Independent Living, Berkeley, and reaching out to the Black Panther party
Date: December 9, 2001
Interviewer: Fred Pelka

Note: Transcripts have been lightly edited; therefore there may be slight discrepancies with audio clips.


Pelka:
What were the main issues, the main problems with bringing blind people into the center, first on the part of the blind people themselves, and then on the part of the center, if you could look at it from both sides.

Galloway:
Blind people, it's very difficult to say what blind people felt, but the blind community did not look upon the center as a place that was friendly to them. The blind community was more connected to the blind services, the Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco, and Orientation Center for the Blind, things like that. We didn't have a lot of blind people coming into the center initially. We had a lot of people with partial sight coming in. They didn't identify as being blind, or they didn't identify as being in wheelchairs. There were services available, so they would come in more. They looked upon the programs and services of the center as being more wheelchair oriented, people that were more physically disabled. It was very different. [tape interruption]

Pelka:
You were talking about integrating the blind people into the CIL, and first of all, the reaction of folks within the blind community who at that time didn't really see the CIL as being open or friendly—

Galloway:
They still don't—Do you want me to continue with that?

Pelka:
Yes, you were kind of in the middle of that thought.

Galloway:
Yes. At that time, and still, the blind community didn't look upon the center as being receptive or friendly or meeting their needs. That was the perception. It wasn't terribly accessible in terms of Braille—even today, you go to meetings, and maybe today, you might have Braille agendas. At that time, it wasn't a priority. The priority when I first joined the center was with people with severe physical disabilities. Most of the leadership at the center were quadriplegics and paraplegics. [Visitor greets interviewee, brief interruption.] And we didn't feel it was a place to hang out, whereas people who were in wheelchairs, who were severely physically disabled, it was a mecca. They came in from all over the country. I was there, and then they brought in Judy Heumann, people coming in from all over the country. Basically, that was it.

On the center's side of the issue, they were trying to attract and bring in people that were blind, and that's why I got hired, is to try and bridge that gap. That's when I started doing outreach into the community and reaching out to blind people for different types of transportation, different types of services. Even to the point, and the political thing again, was that we started to reach out to the Black Panther Party, and I was one of the people that met with the Black Panther leadership through one of their severely disabled members and tried to get them involved in Oakland.

End of transcript


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